Posts from 27th November 2004

Nov 04

A handy, if dubious, piece of advice

Do You SeePost a comment • 359 views

A handy, if dubious, piece of advice I once received (slightly too late to be useful, alas) was this: when encountering a subject for the first time, have no shame about the triviality of the source. Brief, simple sources are less likely to be opinionated or wrong, the theory goes, and may well give you enough to hold your end of the conversation. It was in this sprit that I took on The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance, an hour’s worth of opulent history lesson about famous Florentine plutocrats.

It was a wise choice, although not really for that reason. Instead it turned out to be good fun watching the rich and near continuous documudrama – necessarily mute to accommodate the narration, and so taking on the feel of an up-budget silent movie. The Medicis, without exception, glide around Florence with stern expressions, other characters carefully show anything they might be up to.

And, terrifically, one Medici follower’s life is saved form the villainous Albizzi family’s sword when the Pope bursts into the room and glowers imposingly from the doorway. So there’s my contribution to those inevitable Medici arguments at the Christmas parties. Job done.


Proven By SciencePost a comment • 304 views


“One of Indonesia’s leading palaeontologists, Professor Teuku Jacob of Gadjah Mada University in Jakarta, has grabbed the hobbit remains and locked them away in his safe, refusing to let other scientists study them.”

(all entertaining updates via the incomparable boing boing )

Sometimes completely unexpected connections

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 233 views

Sometimes completely unexpected connections leap out and smack you in the face. Not too long back I wrote a little on Proven By Science about certain kinds of brain damage that cause aphasias related to ways of seeing. Last night I read the trade paperback comic book by David Mack, Daredevil: Echo – Vision Quest. Today I picked up my current art book in progress, Robert Rauschenberg by Sam Hunter. I wouldn’t have expected these things to link up in any way, but they do.

The character called Echo in the comic was born deaf. Much of this comic is about how she developed her own way of communicating and interpreting the world, form and content matching as we are given a comic largely presented in art resembling collage (it’s very post-McKean – and I don’t know that there is any actual collage involved, as it looks as if it’s almost all painted and drawn), supposedly from her own notebooks.

I learn from the Hunter book that Rauschenberg, probably my favourite living artist, is badly dyslexic, and this is convincingly tied in to his own use of collage. The theory presented is that his way of seeing text is directly related to the way he picks images out in his combine works, their rotations and reversals, but also as a suggestion that dyslexia imposes a different way of seeing and organising ideas – it’s argued well, and quotes from Rauschenberg show that he agrees with this idea.

Another incidental pleasure in reading this Rauschenberg book is the captions for the images, the statements of the physical composition, the medium, of the work: we are used to seeing things like ‘oil on canvas’ under a picture, but of course with Rauschenberg it’s rarely so simple. Perhaps his most famous work, Monogram, for instance, gets “oil, paper, fabric, printed paper, printed reproductions, metal, wood, rubber shoe heel, and tennis ball on canvas, with oil on Angora goat and rubber tire, on wood platform mounted on four casters.” Whoever writes these throws their hands up at times and just writes “combine painting” or “painting and assemblage”.

An experimental graphic novel based on blogs?

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 1,291 views

An experimental graphic novel based on blogs?

That sounds thrilling! And its automatcially generated from harvested Blogger text, creating the art on the fly from themed computer graphics – geek heaven!

But the execution turns out to be a jumble of sprites and speech bubbles, and after a while the naratives reveal themselves to be from war blogs, which, when coupled with the imagery of Civ3, makes the whole project seem suspect.